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Myers to Americans: 'Conduct Business as Usual'

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2002 – The nation's ranking military officer has a message for the American people: Live your lives to the fullest, and don't cower in fear of terrorists.

Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said if Americans start hiding and changing how they live, the terrorists who attacked the United States on Sept. 11 will have won.

"If you want the terrorists to win, start conducting your life in a much different manner. Conduct it like the terrorists would like you to conduct it, and that is be afraid," Myers said. "Don't pursue life as a free person. Huddle in your bedroom and don't engage in life."

He was speaking during an interview with the American Forces Press Service and American Forces Radio and Television Service. Portions of the interview will be broadcast to American service members overseas on the one- year anniversary of the attacks.

"What the American people need to do is conduct their business as usual," Myers said.

That doesn't mean there's nothing to worry about. "One terrorist willing to lose his or her life for whatever they believe in is going to be hard to stop, so there will probably be more attacks," Myers said. "But we can't let them influence our behavior to the point where they win."

Preventing more attacks will take vigilance on the part of all Americans, and the citizens of this country need to know their government is behind them, he said.

"We have many agencies here in the United States, not just the U.S. military, but all instruments of national power trying to make this country and our friends and allies' countries safer and securer places," Myers said.

Fighting the war on terrorism has already required sacrifices for many people, but they understand the cause is vital, he said.

"We can't forget that this global war on terrorism is a fight essentially for our freedom," he said. "This is not a (case of) 'I hope we win.' This is, 'We better win.' Our way of life, the way your children and your grandchildren and your families will prosper would change dramatically if we let the terrorists get the upper hand here."

Families of active and reserve component service members play an especially vital role in this war. "Serving in the military is a family affair.; I think people understand that. (Reservists are) a special issue, because they often have to leave their civilian employment, which brings their employers into the picture," Myers said.

He noted employers of reserve-component members have been very supportive. "My hat's off to them," Myers said, noting he believes most employers who have lost workers to military duty understand America's freedom is at stake.

The chairman said reserve forces have been "absolutely essential" to the war on terrorism. "We could not do it (without them)," he said. "That's why we have a reserve, for times when you're in global war and you put a huge stress on the active-duty force. You need the reserves to be the shock absorber and to fulfill very important duties that we just don't have the manpower to do."

Myers said being chairman during this time of national crisis is "very fulfilling" for him because he's so proud of the men and women in uniform.

"In the end, it comes down to people doing what they've been asked to do and doing the mission they've been given," he said. "Our people have performed superbly."

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